Steven, who is chorus master for the Royal Danish Opera, was made a Ridder af Dannebrogordenen (a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog), which is an honour that dates back to 1671.
Queen Margrethe presented him with the award at Copenhagen’s Amalienborg Palace late last year – an honour that he described as surreal.
“I was bowled over,” he said.
“I never anticipated that after such a short time here in Denmark, I’d be awarded such an honour.”
Steven is based in Copenhagen after more than a decade working with some of Europe’s top opera companies, including a stint at London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden.
“My dream was always to one day work at the Royal Opera House,” he said.
“That happened when I was 28, which was brilliant and very confidence building.
“I was working with the world’s top opera singers and conductors. I played in the orchestra, coached, played auditions, was repetiteur on many operas, assistant conductor, backstage conductor and ultimately, conductor as well.”
Steven said the Danish Royal Family, including Australian-born Crown Princess Mary, were great supporters of the arts.
“Queen Margrethe is a former costume and fashion designer,” he said.
“A royal performance always has a special spark.
“I love that the Queen sometimes just turns up, it isn’t always a special Premiere or Gala show, it could be a regular Thursday night, but if she wants to come, she does, and that says a lot about the importance of arts in Denmark.”
The Chorus Master is globally recognised in his current role at the Royal Danish Opera. The company was recently nominated for Best Opera Chorus at the International Opera Awards.
“Copenhagen is a wonderful city to be in, and when I came to audition and heard the level of talent of the Royal Opera Chorus, I was genuinely excited,” he said.
“I love watching the audience reaction to the power, drama and finesse that we create together.”
Steven completed a Graduate Diploma of Vocal Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in 2005.
“I had always been a singer and the Con felt like the best match for me,” he said.
“Highlights would have to be the opera productions that I was involved in at the Con, including Pilgrim’s Progress and The Magic Flute.
“That level of collaboration and stage performance experience while I was still a student was fantastic.
“Being a multi-faceted musician, I was also able to find ways to continue my other musical interests alongside my study. This was really important to me and helped me learn patience and time management skills.”
Steven suggests current students work hard and take up every opportunity offered to them.
“There is always something to be learned from any rehearsal, performance or experience.”